A History of Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church
The year 1946 was one of returning veterans, growing families and full churches. These crowded conditions also existed in the First and Second Christian Reformed Churches of Denver, so their members ultimately recognized that forming a third church would most effectively serve the needs of the Denver CRC community. Therefore, on December 2, 1951, the two councils met at the First Christian Reformed Church, and decided to proceed with plans to organize a third church in Denver.
The inaugural worship service was held in August 1952, at the Denver Christian High School on the corner of South Pearl and East Evans. On September 19, 1952 a committee of Classis Rocky Mountain organized the Third Christian Reformed Church with 81 charter families. They began meeting in the library of Denver Christian High School. The library was soon outgrown as the place for Sunday worship services so the Denver Christian gym at East Florida Avenue and South Clarkson Street became the next worship place. Soon even that worship space had been outgrown and followed by an even larger space at Grant Junior High School on South Washington Street. It was time to build a church!
The land for the church parsonage was purchased in February 1953. The construction of the parsonage was begun primarily by volunteer charter members. Construction of the church building began in September 1954 and was completed and dedicated in June 1955. Rev. John Zwaanstra accepted the call to be the first pastor of Third Christian Reformed Church in January 1953. He served as our pastor until 1964 when Rev. Kermit Reitema became our pastor. He served until 1971.
In 1964 an inner-city mission project was begun in the Sun Valley community by the church’s mission outreach. Meeting originally in the Bestway Disposal’s building until the flood of 1965, a permanent church and later a parsonage were constructed at Decatur and West Holden Place (near Federal Blvd. and Sixth Ave.)
In 1973 Rev. James R. Kok accepted the call and moved his family of eight to Denver to serve as pastor until 1991. During this time (1974) Ron Nydam joined the staff, first as an intern and later as pastor. He and Rev. Kok formed the first team ministry at Third CRC. Pastor Nydam served until 1984. He took a year sabbatical to become a certified counselor and then began Pastoral Counseling for Denver, which continues to this day as an agency for Christian counseling.
The ministry continued to grow at Third CRC and it soon became apparent the need to expand our facility. The sanctuary was remodeled in 1977, a balcony was added to the sanctuary to accommodate the growing number of people at the worship services, and an educational wing was constructed that increased the number of classrooms for its many church programs.
Wendell Meyer became our associate pastor in 1984 and served until 1988. During this time Third CRC helped a group of Cambodian refugees form a new mission church, Khmer Christian Reformed Church. At first they worshiped in the Sun Valley church building, but soon they were in their own facility. This church building is located in Aurora, Colorado on Helena Street which is near the junction of I-70 and I-225. Rev John Kim became the pastor of the Khmer Church in 1986 and has continued until present.
Shortly after the departure of the Meyers (1988), Rev. Thomas Draayer was called to be a co-pastor with Rev. Kok (he had served as an intern earlier). When Rev. Kok left to become the interim regional pastor in Central California, Rev. Draayer became the senior pastor and served until 2011.
David De Ridder was called in 1991 to become our Pastor of Discipleship and Youth. He was ordained in 2010 and has served as the Minister of Congregational Life until today. During his time at Third, he led many Mexico Mission Teams – both adult and youth teams.
In the 90’s it was decided that an elevator would be needed to make our church handicapped accessible. To anyone having a hard time climbing stairs to attend the worship services, the elevator has shown to be a true blessing to many. Also during this time, several new programs were being created at Third. We needed a person to coordinate all these programs, and the Ministries Coordinator position was created. Marj Youngsma was added to the staff in 1999 and served as our Ministries Coordinator until Kelly Herrema replaced her in 2005.
Rev. Samuel Perry was called in 2007 to be the Pastor of Worship, and he served until 2012. Shortly after his departure the remodeling of the sanctuary began – this time the renovation was the front of the sanctuary with new carpeting added throughout the sanctuary and common areas. As the Search Committee worked to find a suitable pastor, we called an interim pastor for ten months – Rev. Neal Rylaarsdam. During this time three part-time positions were added to the ministry staff at Third CRC: Director of Worship, Director of Children’s Ministries, and Director of Youth Ministries.
In December 2013 Pastor Robert Knol accepted the call to become our pastor of Third CRC. He and his wife, Linda and three sons moved here from Indiana to become the Minister of Worship at Third. Pastor Rob’s job at Third includes most of the preaching and teaching on Sunday mornings, helping the church and staff figure out where God is leading, and guiding people in and outside of the church to engage in spiritual growth.
In 2017, Third Christian Reformed Church was officially renamed to Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church.
Since 1974 we have enjoyed the service of seminary interns. Among those who have served are Ron Nydam, Mike Van Hofwegen, Doug McCleod, Tom Draayer, Jim Van Tholen, Dean Kladder, and Jon Stoddard. Al De Vries served the church for a time in coffee shop ministry.
Hope Fellowship CRC has helped sponsor, develop, and support the following church plants: Sun Valley in Denver, Emmanuel in Salt Lake City, Khmer in Denver, Crestview in Boulder, Eastern Hills in Aurora, New Life in Houston, San Antonio, and Cascade of Hope in Denver.